Field Trips

The Nature Institute (TNI) offers field trip programs to groups of students in preschool through college. Field trip programs are offered in one and a half hour blocks, Tuesday through Friday throughout the school year. Field trips must be booked 2 weeks in advance minimum.

Program Length: 1.5 hours

  • Educational programs are facilitated by our staff and volunteer field trip leaders and are one and a half hours in length
  • We provide one field trip leader per group of 15 students
  • You are invited to use our picnic tables and play area for self-guided lunch and free play time, before or after the program

Program Size: 15-45 students

  • Please break your students into groups of no more than 15
  • Contact us if you would like to arrange a trip for fewer than 15 or more than 45 students

Program Cost: $6/student

  • Minimum of $90 per program
  • Schools may choose to add a second program block in the afternoon at a discounted rate of $3 per student
  • Double the Fun: For $9/student, you can double your learning and fun at The Nature Institute. Option to book from 9:30 – 1:30 or 10 – 2! Program includes 2 field trips, 1 AM and 1 PM, with an hour long break between for lunch and playground time.


All teachers and school staff are free. One volunteer chaperone per ten students is also free. Additional adults will be charged at the student rate.

Deposit/Cancellation Policy

Effective Spring 2020, TNI will require a deposit for all field trips in order to secure a date on our calendar. The deposit may be made through our online registration system or a check, but it must be received no later than 30 days before the program date. You will receive final confirmation from our staff once your program is on the calendar.

The deposit is $90, which is equivalent to the minimum program fee and will be credited towards the cost of the program. This deposit is only refundable in the case of TNI needing to cancel the program due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a hazardous weather event. If a school cancels their field trip within two weeks of their scheduled date, they lose their deposit and a new deposit will be required to reschedule the program. If a school cancels their field trip with at least two weeks notice, the original deposit can be applied towards the rescheduled date.


You are responsible for transportation. TNI may be able to help you secure transportation funding. Please contact us for more information.


Still Have Questions?

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions, located at the bottom of the page.

Program Options

Program Season Grade Level
The Art of Adapting Any 3rd through 6th
Budding Botanists Spring or Fall 1st through 5th
Creature Classification Any 2nd through 5th
The Cycle of Life Spring or Fall 2nd through 4th
Feathered Friends Any PreK through 5th
Grossology Any 2nd through 5th
Insect Inquiry Spring or Fall PreK through 5th
Life in the Water Spring or Fall 6th through 12th
Trek to Beaver Falls Any 3rd grade and up

Program Descriptions

The Art of Adapting (3rd – 6th): Why do different birds have different beaks? Why do some animals play dead? Learn how physical and behavioral traits help animals to survive out in nature! This field trip includes a hike, a game, and an art challenge.

Budding Botanists (1st – 5th) – Trees and plants provide homes for animals, products for humans, and the air we breathe! Learn all about the structure of plants, as well as their important uses. This field trip includes a plant identification hike, a craft, and a plant activity.

Creature Classification (2nd – 5th): How do scientists classify animals, and why do we do it? Students are invited to explore the scientific world of classification through hands-on activities. This field trip includes a hike, a challenge, and a visit with our box turtle.

The Cycle of Life (2nd – 4th): Examine life cycles through this interactive, outdoor field trip. Play a game, meet an animal up close, and take a look at the life cycles just beginning out in our pond! This field trip includes a visit with our box turtle, pond dipping, a hike, and a game.

Feathered Friends (PreK – 5th): Fly over to The Nature Institute to learn about our feathered friends. Test out different beaks, play a game, and use binoculars to spot different species in the preserve. This field trip includes a game, an experiment, and a birding hike.

Grossology (2nd – 5th): Looking for something different? This is the field trip for you! Dissect an owl pellet, play as a vomiting vulture, search for creepy crawlies in the forest, and sculpt the perfect scat. This field trip includes owl pellet dissection, a game, a hike, and a craft.

Insect Inquiry (PreK – 5th): Teeny, tiny creatures are all around us — you just need to get a closer look! Insects take care of many different jobs, from pollinating to decomposing. Conduct field science through exploration and use of scientific tools like magnifying glasses! Discover the importance of these tiny helpers in our ecosystem. This field trip includes an insect search, a game, and a craft to take home.

Life in the Water (6th – 12th): Conduct citizen science through the use of scientific tools and experiments out in our creeks. Spend time searching for macroinvertebrates with nets and conducting tests to determine water quality! This field trip includes a hike, creek dipping, and water quality testing.

Trek to Beaver Falls (3rd – College): Head out to the trails to get a glimpse of Beaver Falls, our largest waterfall on the property! Discuss the essentials of Leave No Trace and gain expert knowledge about the flora and fauna here at TNI. This intermediate loop trail has hilly, moderate terrain, with some steep or rocky areas. Participants may get wet! This 2 hour field trip includes a naturalist led, 2.3 mile round trip hike to Beaver Falls. There is an option to add in a specific outdoor topic to focus on during the hike (tree/plant ID, mammals, habitats, birds, etc).


If you would like more information regarding field trips at TNI, please call us at 618-466-9930 or email us at

Interested in a custom, virtual, or college field trip? Contact Lauren Scull, the Director of Education, at

Field Trip Availability


Green Dates = Available

Yellow Dates = Limited availability

Red Dates = Fully booked

Calendar last updated 09/08/2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

My school requires an invoice before sending payment. How do I do this online?

Please fill out a field trip request form online, and mark ‘check’ as your payment type. In the section of the form that asks for additional comments, please request an invoice here. We will create an invoice for you and send it to the contact listed on the form.

Am I guaranteed the date that I’ve listed on my field trip request form?

No, but we do try to book one of your top 3 dates. We do our best to keep our online calendar as up to date as possible, but it is not always 100% accurate. If you’d like to make sure that a specific date is available before booking, please give us a call at (618) 466-9930 or email us at

I’ve submitted my field trip request form. Now what?

After we receive your form, one of the members of our Education Team will reach out to you via email to confirm your date and time, as well as clarify any other details that we may need. You will also receive a detailed email regarding your field trip after it’s been booked. If you don’t hear from us within 5 – 7 days of submitting your form, please reach out — your form may have not submitted!

What should we wear or bring?

All of our programs are entirely outdoors, so be sure to wear weather appropriate clothing, as well as closed toed shoes. We go out in rain, snow, and sun. Water bottles, sunscreen, and bug spray are also encouraged.

What if there’s inclement weather?

In the case of inclement winter weather or thunderstorms, your program will be rescheduled to an agreed upon date or cancelled. We close for winter weather when Alton Public Schools close.

What will we be doing during the program?

The program activities will vary based on the topic. Plan to spend lots of time outside, go for a hike, discover new things in nature, and participate in fun, age – appropriate activities! Interested in learning more about the specific activities for the program? Drop us a line at (618) 466-9930, or email

Our class used to dip at the pond. Which field trip does that activity?

The only field trip that includes pond dipping is The Cycle of Life. Vernal pools are very fragile environments due to their vast array of amphibians; we want to limit the amount of times that we enter their ecosystems. While it’s an excellent learning activity, we want to balance the health of the environment and our interest in exploring these areas.

Do your programs meet NGSS Standards?

Most of our programs meet the Next Generation Science Standards. Please contact us for more details.

Can we eat lunch there?

Absolutely! There are picnic tables all around the outside of Talahi Lodge that are perfect for picnics. We do not have food service on site, so be sure to pack your own lunch!

What else can we do there before/after our program?

Visitors are welcome to enjoy roughly 7 miles of trails, as well as Discovery Woods, our certified Nature Explore classroom.